Fall Commencement Tip Sheet

Photo of Spring 2006 Commencement

The Spring 2006 Commencement Ceremony in the Show Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University.

Fall commencement at Southeast Missouri State University is planned for 2 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Show Me Center Arena. Some candidates for graduation have reported interesting feature stories about themselves that could be developed in connection with commencement. These story tips with contact names and phone numbers are listed below. Students will begin assembling for commencement at 1:15 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center. The Southeast News Bureau is happy to make arrangements for you to meet and interview any of the graduates listed below between 1:15 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Student Recreation Center. Please do not hesitate to call the News Bureau at (573) 651-2552 with any questions about these or other commencement stories.

Abby Pfefferkorn of Sikeston, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a minor in special education. Pfefferkorn is visually and hearing impaired and has completed her education with the help of her guide dog, Faith. Pfefferkorn can be reached at (573) 475-0688. Sara Schmidt of Fenton, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of general studies degree. Schmidt is a first-generation college student and has completed her degree despite her job as a full-time editor for YouthNoise.com and taking care of her daughter Sagean. YouthNoise was founded in 2001 by Save the Children as an online community for youth to share and convert ideas into action and improve the world around them. Since its original conception, YouthNoise spun off in 2004 and has spent the last two years evolving from an online community for youth to an online social network for youth who want to create social change. In fall 2005, Schmidt flew to San Francisco to meet the YouthNoise team. While there, she was rushed to the hospital with preeclampsia. Her baby was born after only 25 weeks, weighing one pound and one ounce. She remained in San Francisco into the following spring 2006 semester, staying at the Ronald McDonald House. There, she pumped breast milk and used their computers to do school work. With the assistance of faculty members at Southeast, she got caught up on her coursework and completed all of her credits from both the fall 2005 and spring 2006 semesters. Eventually, she returned home with her daughter on oxygen. The child is now a healthy baby. Because Sagean is high-risk for respiratory diseases, Schmidt will be unable to attend her graduation ceremony. Schmidt can be reached at (636) 326-5183.  

Rachel Stork of Sparta, Ill., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in secondary education. Stork will graduate on the same day as her father, Larry Stork, who will graduate from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIU-C). A contractor with a high school education, Larry Stork always stressed to his four children the importance of education. When Rachel began college, Larry decided to do the same. Larry will be missing his own graduation ceremony at SIU-C in order to attend his daughter’s commencement. Larry will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in industrial education. He is currently employed as a vocational teacher at Sparta (Ill.) High School and plans to pursue a master’s degree in school administration in the near future. Rachel Stork plans to pursue a teaching position in art education. “It will be a great day of celebration for both of us,” Rachel Stork said. “I am very proud of my dad.” Rachel Stork can be reached at (573) 576-8411.

Kimberly Zavala-Hernandez of Kennett, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education. Zavala-Hernandez has completed her degree in four years while raising her six children, who range from 7 to 17 years of age. Zavala-Hernandez’s husband is a truck driver which leaves most parental responsibilities to her. Despite a house fire in 2000 in which the family lost most of its possessions, the death of several family members and the death of a close friend within the past two years, Zavala-Hernandez resisted the temptation to quit school. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in the near future. Zavala-Hernandez can be reached at (573) 888-8994.

Kelly Almond of Fenton, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science degree with a major in history. Almond has been president of Southeast’s Non-Traditional Student Association since 2003. The Association won the Outstanding Student Organization award in 2004. The Association currently has 56 student members. Almond is a single parent of four teenagers ranging from 13 to 18 years of age and commutes daily from St. Louis, Mo. Almond can be reached at (636) 343-9763.

Nina Leroux of Doniphan, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education. Despite numerous medical problems within her family and pregnancy, Leroux has completed her education in her spare time and has obtained a 3.3 grade point average. Leroux can be reached at (573) 996-5508.

Gabriel Lutes of Fenton, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in physical education. As a member of the men’s cross country team, Lutes was named to the 2005-2006 Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll for an outstanding grade point average. Lutes can be reached at (314) 852-3757.

Rebecca Reed of Scott City, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science degree with a major in political science. Reed’s mother, Dr. Joyce Reed, graduated from Southeast when she was only 20, and Rebecca follows in her footsteps by also graduating at 20 years of age. Reed can be reached at (573) 579-2287.

Michael Rembert of Cape Girardeau, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science degree with a major in criminal justice. Rembert has finished his degree in just three and a half years while participating in Southeast’s men’s basketball team. Rembert can be reached at (708) 261-4891.

Michael Taylor of Jackson, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science degree with a major in mass communication with an emphasis in public relations. Last summer, Taylor completed an internship with the Public Relations Society of America in Manhattan, N.Y. Taylor was selected for this prestigious internship among students across the United States. Taylor can be reached at (573) 579-2854.

Matthew Wortmann of Jackson, Mo., will graduate from Southeast with a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in secondary education. In graduating, Wortmann joins his mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, fiancé, cousin and aunt who have all graduated from Southeast. Wortmann can be reached at (573) 243-5877.